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Fibre Channel SAN Switching – Cisco Has Your Back

- April 20, 2017 - 10 Comments

Back in 1984 the desire to connect across campus gave birth to the first multi-protocol router, and to Cisco.  Much has changed since then, but one thing remains constant.  No, I’m not talking about my love of the New York Yankees – I’m talking about Cisco’s focus on the customer.

Putting customer first is what fuels our commitment to storage networking and continuous innovation when it comes to Cisco MDS solutions.  In fact, just last week we announced technology innovations for next-generation storage networking, including giving customers 32Gb fibre channel performance across a unified MDS storage director and UCS, among other things.

One has to wonder if other companies share that commitment.  Take Brocade Communications Systems, for instance…  When Broadcom announced its intent to acquire Brocade back in November, it vowed to “retain Brocade’s Fibre Channel SAN Switching business and divest Brocade’s IP Networking business”.  So far, that’s exactly what’s happening (most recent piece of business picked up by Extreme Networks).  Translation: we’re keeping the cash cow and letting go of the rest.

But with fibre channel SAN switching not being Broadcom’s core competency, what incentive does it have to innovate and invest in a robust roadmap?  And Brocade customers have to ask themselves, will their support be as good tomorrow as it is today?

Cisco’s answer is an unequivocal yes.  We are delivering cutting edge technology today to keep customers’ mission-critical data running, as we have for the last 15 years since Cisco’s Data Center strategy began.  Cisco storage networking solutions can help the network adapt to new storage trends such as flash, NVMe, and converged infrastructure workloads.  We continue to invest in our future storage networking solutions and provide ways to help customers manage their networks seamlessly.

Every week my team has many conversations with customers around the advantages of a Cisco Data Center solution.  Cisco MDS provides the best investment protection in the industry with our existing director able to handle 32Gb and beyond without a fork lift upgrade.  Our products provide multi-protocol functionality to enable networks to seamlessly transition to new technologies.  We are investing heavily in DCNM, our single pane of management, providing seamless management of SAN & LAN workloads, delivering operational efficiencies and additional analytics to customers to ensure their network is working at its best.

Cisco’s channel relationships are another reason to go with Cisco.  After all, making it easier for customers to stand up, run and upgrade their networks is part of our unrelenting customer focus.  Cisco also offers OpenPay, a financing structure  from Cisco Capital that takes a metered approach to monitoring usage of converged infrastructure, storage, routing and switching solutions.

So here at Cisco, we have our customers’ backs – today, and into the future.

Brocade customers – now that you’re on your own, we can have yours too.

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  1. Excellent post!

  2. It shows a little desperation to see a big and reputable company like Cisco resort to spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt over a very common and typical thing as is a big technology company buying another one, all in order to scare customers off in the hopes of gaining some market share, given that they have miserably failed to do so over the last decade or so.

    • I think it is fair to question. You can bet I am worried about previous purchases that my company made as the SAN switches were included when we procured our HDS storage. There are a ton of OEMs who's customers may not even realize those are Brocade SAN switches inside. See this list.

  3. I have used both DCNM and BNA in relation to FC, but my findings are that having 1 management tool doing both IP and FC is really cluttering the tool. The amount of IP ports is very often a multitude of ports compared to FC. Thus focus tends to be more shifting to IP in those cases. Broadcom buying Brocade for just FC means better focus! Same thing goes for the support part. But I guess it is all just speculation, we'll have to wait and see..... My 2 cents..;-)

    • Although DCNM supports both LAN and SAN most Cisco customers deploying our SAN fabrics primarily use DCNM for SAN only. We offer customers the flexibility of having both on a single pane of glass but it is rare that we see LAN and SAN deployed with one instance of the DCNM tool. Our Customers who have both DCNM for LAN and SAN have separate instances of the tool.

    Looking good on the SAN front.

  4. Hey Frank,a nice piece of tawdry scare-mongering, thought Cisco were above this sort of tabloid reporting.

  5. Broadcom has never managed an OEM product line or company. It's a semiconductor company that sells units of components in high volume. If anything is to be read into this acquisition, it's breaking up the monopoly of the two horse race. Brocade SAN silicon could very well be offered out to Cisco competitors like Arista or even create an emergence of startups like Cumulus to create a white box fibre channel market.

    • You say that as if building an enterprise-class Fibre Channel product was just about slapping a bunch of FC chips together. Around the ASICs you have to build a robust operating system that is purpose-built for storage, and around that a number of advanced tools for troubleshooting, monitoring and advanced analytlics. Brocade has worked for decades to build that expertise. Cisco seems to be just starting to catch up. Arista and other networking-centric Cisco competitors have ZERO storage expertise. That is not something you can easily build from scratch.

  6. Interesting to read that Cisco is counting on Fibre Channel storage networking (again). After several years of convincing the market on iSCSI and FCoE. The market has proven that these are protocols for specific environments, SMB or Initiator. They never could keep up with the demands of complex end-to-end Data Center environments. DR, HA and RPO/RTO are key elements here and Fibre Channel has proven to be best suited for these since years. It is important to understand the storage protocol and its application needs rather than just network bandwidth. So it is always good to have companies like Cisco and Brocade (“Broadcom”) investing in technologies supporting the application/data growth and storage protocol revolutions like FC-NVMe to handle these. Indeed Broadcom values the revenue of Brocade’s FC network systems business. There is no reason to break it in apart into ASIC deliveries only, what would result in less revenue for them.